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This post is part of our Uber Driver Training Mini-Series, designed to help drivers get through the application process, and earn more once on the road. This post will dive into how drivers can use Uber driver referrals to make more money aside from driving.
The majority of us who drive for Uber, Lyft or any other rideshare company, do it for the money. Sure, it’s not the most traditional career path. But like many other gig economy jobs, it can be lucrative depending how good you are at leveraging the profitable bonus opportunities it provides.
For Uber drivers, one of those profitable opportunities is referrals. The predominant way Uber increases its revenue is by having new passengers join, and the more riders they get, the more drivers they require to fulfill the increasing ride requests.
Hence, Uber incentivizes their current drivers to recruit more drivers by offering them attractive bonuses for every referral they bring in. These bonuses are similar to Lyft’s new driver incentives, but rather than pay out per ride, they are a “guarantee” for a certain time period.
Here’s a brief overview of how they work:
So even though making money taking passengers from Point A to Point B is the most obvious way to get paid, there is also money to be made by referring new passengers and drivers. This is what Joseph Ziyaee did when a hairline fracture on his foot made it difficult for him to drive people around. He shifted his focus from driving passengers around to attracting new drivers into the app, and ended up making over $90,000 in the next six months. The first month he made about $20,000 despite only giving one Uber ride.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the Uber driver referral bonus, and tips and tricks you can use to boost the number of drivers you sign up.
Earn more with Uber driver referrals
It’s still a little-known secret among rideshare drivers that Uber will pay you to refer other people who go on to become drivers and even passengers.
Many Uber drivers supplement their income with driver referral rewards. In fact, some experienced drivers, like Joseph Ziyaee, focus exclusively on recruiting new drivers and passengers to the Uber platform, and don’t even drive any more.
The opportunities to recruit new drivers are endless. There are people everywhere actively seeking easy ways to supplement their income, and becoming an Uber driver is perfect for that. Besides, the cost of entry of starting to make money through Uber is little to none. Any person with a qualified car and no criminal record should be able to hit the road within a few days.
Many times while driving, your passengers will start asking you questions about driving for Uber. This is a great opportunity for you to refer them. You have a captive audience for the duration of the ride, so all you need to do is incorporate a few simple strategies into your daily driving to capitalize on this.
How does the Uber driver referral program work?
Uber knows that drivers are a great source of referrals, and they make every effort to tap into this huge member base. Uber’s referral program gives every new Uber driver a special invite promo code. This can be found on your Uber App.
This code works for new drivers signing up for the platform, and ensures that the new driver is able to get a new driver bonus. It also assures that you get paid for referring them if they complete the signup process and a certain number of rides. This number of rides and the bonus amount will vary depending on the city: a sign up from San Diego will yield you a different amount than one from San Francisco.
Here is what the Uber driver signup form looks like. Notice the box for “invite code.”
Once a driver fills out the form and fills in the invite code they will see what new driver sign on bonus they qualify for. If they do not enter an invite code, then they will miss out on getting a new driver sign up referral bonus!
If you know someone asking about driving for Uber, you want to let them know that they need an invite code in order to get the bonus. OR they need to click on a link like our “drive for Uber” link which automatically includes our referral code. Most people don’t know they need a referral code to get a bonus, so simply letting them know about this opportunity is a great way to get referrals.
When your friend enters their invite code, Uber will notify you with both a text message and an email to let you know that your friend has signed up.
My friend signed up using my Uber driver referral code. When do I get paid?
Just because your friend filled out the form on the website and used your code doesn’t mean you get paid. That would open Uber up to a lot of fraud and since people would create fake driver accounts to get paid bonuses.
Uber goes to pretty great lengths to put security measures in place so that all drivers need to complete few steps before they get paid their new driver sign up bonus.
- Step 1. They complete the application process through the Uber app.
- Step 2. They get approved to drive.
- Step 3. They complete a minimum number of rides with passengers.
- Step 4. You and your driver friend get paid your bonuses.
Note that Uber will notify you through email or push notification within 48 hours of your referrals completing their Uber trip requirements. You should see the bonus within your payment statement within two weeks.
How do I know what step in the referral process my friend is on?
You can track the progress of your referrals through your Partner Dashboard in your Uber Account. For this, just go to partners.uber.com and sign in. You can see the names of your referrals, their city, what bonus you qualify for, and what step they are on in the process right under the “Invites” section.
If you want to access their status from within your driver app itself, then just open the app and tap on “Invites” from the Earnings tab.
It looks like this:
Uber will notify you about the progress of the referring driver at various steps in the process:
- They will notify you when a new Uber driver signs up using your code.
- They will notify you when your driver is approved to begin driving.
- They will notify you that your driver completed their rides and your bonus is to be paid.
In the meantime, Uber won’t give you any information. If your driver signs up but isn’t approved, they won’t tell you. Uber considers this information confidential. You will need to reach out to your referrals to see if they have questions or need help with the signup process.
My friend used my Uber referral code to sign up, but the code isn’t working. What do I do?
In this case, ask your friend, or the referral, to contact the Uber support within 7 days of completing their required number of trips. They should compensate you and your friend with the appropriate referral Uber credits and bonuses. If you live in New York City, though, you will have to go in person to a Greenlight Hub to get this problem fixed.
7 tips to earn more Uber driver referrals
The most popular ways to share your code includes shooting an email invite to everyone on your contact list from within the app itself, or spreading your referral code across all your social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
But to get the best results, you have to hustle a little more and scout (legal) paths less taken. Put your creative hat on, and try to think of unconventional ways to spread your Uber referral code to new prospective drivers that goes beyond spamming your link on group discount sites or advertising through Google (both of which are against their Terms of Service and will get your account banned).
Here are some of our favorite ways to entice new Uber Drivers:
1. Uber referral cards
Many drivers make their own Uber referral cards. They don’t like the marketing on the Uber cards and feel they can do better on their own. A good example is a sign, similar to our free Uber tipping sign, that displays basic information and a link to the signup page.
You may not be a creative or marketing type, and that’s OK! If you become friends with other drivers ask if they have cards they have created. You may find someone who is willing to share a card design that is more effective than the generic ones Uber provides. Just make sure that you copy code correctly onto the cards.
2. Pitch it to your Passengers
When passengers ask you questions about driving, this is a great opportunity for a potential referral. You will frequently get asked questions like “How do you like driving?” When they ask these questions they are potentially interested in becoming a driver. You may even find that someone tells you they are thinking about becoming a driver.
Now is your opportunity to give to open up a positive conversation about what it’s like driving for Uber and then hand them your card with your referral code on it. You might even want to offer them your cell number or email in case they have questions about signing up. If you’re earning up to $400 for a referral it is definitely worth it!
3. Send them a gentle reminder
Note that the Uber driver referrals page has the opportunity to “remind” them. This is an email reminder to your driver referrals. If you click the link it should open in an email program with a little default text. Make sure to leave them a personal note letting them know you’re willing to help answer their questions.
The top Uber driver referral partners go the extra mile to help their drivers get started. As you can see from the screenshot above, many drivers never complete the application process. If they have someone to help them out, they’re more likely to complete the process.
4. Go beyond local
You can also refer people that aren’t local. Uber is an international company and you can get paid for referring drivers anywhere. Also, different countries have different promotions going on at any given time. In Singapore, for example, they are offering promotional bonuses up to $2500 for a single referral. So if you have friends in a different country (or state or city) that are offering lucrative deals for new drivers, you might have an easier time getting them to sign up in that location.
Also, If you attend an event that’s in a different city or state, it is always good to keep your Uber referral cards handy. Potential drivers are everywhere, so you should always be prepared.
5. Invite friends
On the Uber partner website you have the ability to invite friends to drive for Uber. There are links to send messages out on Facebook and Twitter. There is a link to invite friends with Gmail. There is also a form on the bottom of the page to invite any of your friends via email. As long as you have their email address you can invite them to drive. They will get a link with your referral code embedded. All they have to do is click the link to join and it will pass in your invite code.
And even if they don’t sign up as a driver, they may still want to try out Uber as a passenger. You will still receive a rider referral bonus for that, which, although less than a driver referral bonus, is still better than nothing.
6. Document your journey
If you are a successful Uber driver, or even an independent contractor that drives for Uber as a side gig, you can set up a blog or a Youtube channel to document your journey to success. By showing and teaching people how to earn income through Uber, you will stack up plenty of qualified viewers who have a genuine interest in trying their hand at driving for Uber.
The great perk of having a website, or a channel on a popular video platform like Youtube is that it gives you multiple chances to convince the visitors why driving for Uber is worth their time. Along with that, they get to see first hand how it has changed your life. By creating unique, authoritative content about your rideshare journey, your potential for inspiring a large chunk of audience all over the world to convert using your referral code is pretty high.
7. Street team
I can’t mention Uber driver referral tactics without mentioning street teaming!
A street team is a grassroots marketing effort. Usually a few drivers get together and go to public events like concerts, conferences, sporting events, and parades; basically anywhere that a lot of people are gathered. They dress lively. They wear Uber trade gear. They have a lot of business cards, flyers, etc. to hand out. Anywhere there will be a lot of people they go out street teaming.
Usually street teaming is geared towards recruiting passengers but you will occasionally find people that are interested in driving as well. You could even target events like job fairs or small/home business expos where you know the people are looking to make extra money. The bonus codes for passengers and drivers are the same. Anyone who has your code can use it to sign up as a passenger for a free ride, as a driver, or both!
Street teaming can be done on your own but it is always best to do it in a group. It is safer for you but also gives the event more energy and excitement. Plus, you can learn from more experienced drivers. Connect with other local drivers on Facebook, UberPeople, or SherpaShare. Network and find some other drivers to street team with.
A great example of a solid street team is PromoAffiliates, which we covered in this post. This company is SO good at getting new rider referrals and drivers referrals that they’ve been covered in huge publications like Forbes. Check out their work to get some good ideas and inspiration.
Inviting people to drive for Uber is pretty easy. Getting your referrals through the process is the hard part. Use the tracking tools and the reminders we mentioned to help ensure more of your referrals complete the process. The top referral partners take extra time to help their referrals get started as a driver.
For offline marketing for Uber drivers, it’s always imperative to keep your Uber referral card handy. If you bump into someone, like a passenger, who shows a genuine curiosity in learning about driving for Uber, tell them more and leave your contact with them. Guide your invitees out through the sign up process from within the app, and gently remind them if you find their status frozen at a specific stage.
Finally, make friends with other drivers. You may find that some of them are specialists in getting referrals. You may want to duplicate some of these strategies these professional referral partners use. Obviously you don’t want to copy their work without permission, but you can get a lot of wonderful ideas. They may even give you permission to use their specialized designs for maximizing referrals.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.